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No Hablo Teen: Tips and ideas for learning a language at GCSE with Rebecca Nobes

Growing up in the 80s, there was a real drive to teach children foreign languages at school. It’s something you can still see today with introductory lessons often taking place in primary schools. Although there are fewer students taking GCSEs in modern foreign languages than a decade ago; French, Spanish or German are still popular options for students to take. But if you’ve ever tried to learn a language independently, you’ll know it can be really tough. So has lockdown impacted student’s ability to continue their language studies, perhaps more than other subjects?

This week we’re looking at the benefits of learning a language at GCSE, and ideas to effectively prepare for assessments.

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Nathan McGurl, founder of The Study Buddy, is joined by Rebecca Nobes. Rebecca is the Head of Spanish in a large secondary school in Essex. She is a Council member of the Chartered College of Teaching. Rebecca is also an active podcaster and blogger at

In this episode, Rebecca talks about the benefits of learning another language. She also gives practical advice and guidance on preparing for assessments. It is probably no surprise to learn that ‘little and often’ features as a top tip!

Just half of the students we’re following in this season are studying a language for their GCSEs. Not being interested and, more commonly, a belief that they’re ‘no good at languages’ are reasons given. Lee chose German because he wants to go to Germany one day. Importantly, he also found it more interesting than History or Geography! However, he is finding it difficult to be motivated over lockdown. This is due to a combination of not using his microphone during lessons as well as not having friends to talk to in class. He doesn’t really feel he’s making much progress.


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